Nova Scotia PC Leader Jamie Baillie forced out over allegations of 'inappropriate behaviour'
Patrick Brown stepped down as leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario early Thursday, only hours after denying allegations of sexual misconduct, which one woman told CBC News happened while she was working for him.
"However, defeating [Ontario Premier] Kathleen Wynne in 2018 is more important than one individual. For this reason, after consulting with caucus, friends and family I have decided to step down as leader of the Ontario PC Party. I will remain on as a MPP while I definitively clear my name from these false allegations."
Election in 4 months
The allegations and the resignation leave the Ontario PCs in turmoil and without a leader, with the provincial election scheduled for June 7.
Brown called a snap news conference at the provincial legislature on Wednesday night to deny the allegations, calling them "categorically untrue." The conference came just ahead of a CTV News report detailing allegations by two women dating back to when Brown was a federal MP.
The woman, who CBC News has agreed not to identity due to the sexual nature of her complaint, worked for Brown in 2013 when she was 19 years old.
The former staffer claims Brown sexually assaulted her after Hockey Night in Barrie, an annual charity game. At the after-party held at The Bank, a former nightclub in the downtown area, she said Brown's friend provided her with a series of free alcoholic drinks.
The woman said she was "very" intoxicated by the time a group of them moved the party to Brown's home, where she says the MPP invited her into his bedroom. Brown started kissing her, she says, claiming she didn't kiss him back and froze up. Eventually he realized it was awkward and stopped kissing her, she said.
The woman said she told Brown, "I have a boyfriend and you need to take me home." She said she remembers feeling this was the safest way to manage things.
The next morning, she said, she woke up crying. She said she didn't tell anyone what happened immediately because she hoped things would go back to normal. At work that day, she said Brown called her but didn't mention what happened the previous night.
While she remained working for him, the woman said Brown invited her to travel to India with him as his assistant. She said Brown told her she would look good on an elephant. She agreed to the trip, she said, because she didn't know how to say no.
Later, the woman said, she "broke down" when she told her father about the incident at Brown's home and the invitation to travel with him to India. She didn't go on the trip, but said she continued working for Brown while she attended university. "It was an ideal student job," she said.
The following summer she returned to his office and said while she didn't have much contact with him, she remembers feeling "anxious" whenever they interacted. The woman claims nothing physical ever transpired between them, but he continued to make sexual comments to her.
After Brown launched his bid for leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, the woman says he told her he feared not being married would hurt his chances in the race, and alleges he said, "I wish I could find a 26-year-old version of you."
'These allegations are false': Brown
In an appearance only about a minute long on Wednesday night, a visibly distressed Brown said he had learned about the allegations a couple of hours earlier.
"I want to say: These allegations are false. Every one of them," he said. "I will defend myself as hard as I can, with all the means at my disposal. I know that the court of public opinion moves fast. I have instructed my attorneys to ensure that these allegations are addressed where they should be: in a court of law."
Brown stood alone at a podium during the news conference, walked briskly away without taking questions and left in a waiting vehicle.
The pressure on Brown to resign ramped up immediately. His top three campaign staff quit, saying they had urged Brown to step down, but he had refused. Then his caucus members held a conference call, during which MPPs demanded Brown resign.
"In the interest of the Ontario PC Party we unanimously agree that Mr. Brown cannot continue serving as the Leader," said a statement from the caucus, issued by deputy leaders Sylvia Jones and Steve Clark. "Mr. Brown is entitled to a legal defence and due process, but he cannot lead us into an election as a result of these allegations."
Brown won the PC leadership race in 2015. He had served as a Conservative MP on Stephen Harper's backbenches for nine years, and was seen by many as a long-shot candidate. But he built a strong organization and signed up thousands of new members to the party from communities in the Greater Toronto Area that had shown little support for the PCs.
The PCs then enjoyed a wide lead over Wynne's Liberals in nearly all opinion polls throughout 2016 and 2017, while his party out-fundraised the Liberals and the Ontario NDP combined.
Brown launched his campaign platform in November, trying to position the PCs as a centrist party, ready to end 14 years of Liberal reign in Ontario but pledging not to reverse most of the Wynne government's key programs.
It is unclear who will replace Brown and how the new leader will be chosen. The statement issued by the deputy leaders said "caucus will immediately consult with party officials and members on best way to move forward."
The party constitution says when a leader resigns, the caucus must select an interim leader to serve until a leadership convention can be held. Diverting resources toward a snap leadership convention is likely to be the last thing the PCs want to do with an election campaign around the corner.
Some of the names being floated already as potential replacements for Brown include MPPs Lisa MacLeod and Vic Fedeli, who both sought the leadership in 2015, as well as the two deputy leaders, Clark and Jones.
This is a disaster for Ontario and for Canada as Ontario is easily its biggest province. Kathleen Wynne has been a nightmare for the province and has introduced sex education in schools focussed on teaching children about homosexuality and transgenderism rather than pedophilia which is a dramatically bigger problem. Her extreme left-wing views are helping move Canada to the far-left and will eventually destroy Canadian society as we know it.
Federal Sport and Disabilities Minister Kent Hehr has resigned from cabinet pending an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment.
"Harassment of any kind is unacceptable and Canadians have a right to live and work in environments free from harassment," he said. "As a government, we take any allegations of misconduct extremely seriously, and we believe that it is important to support women who come forward with allegations and that is exactly what our government will do."
The resignation comes after posts to Twitter alleging inappropriate behaviour. A woman said Hehr made women feel "unsafe" and made verbally suggestive remarks, including "you're yummy."
The tweets said women felt fearful about getting in the same elevator with Hehr at the Alberta Legislature, where he was a member from 2008 to 2015, and that Hehr had made unwanted sexually suggestive comments.
CBC News has learned that a representative from the Prime Minister's Office spoke with Kristin Raworth today about her tweets.
Hehr issued his own statement, stating that the conversation society is having is a "very important one" and encouraged all women who have experienced harassment to come forward. Throughout my career I have always tried to conduct myself with respect towards others, and I understand the most important thing is how each individual feels," he said in a statement."
"I have been informed that an investigation into these allegations has begun and I welcome and respect this process. While this is ongoing, I have resigned from cabinet pending the outcome of the investigation. I do not want to be a distraction to all the good work being done by our government."
Hehr will stay on as MP for Calgary Centre, and Science Minister Kirsty Duncan will take on the sport and disabilities portfolio.
During the news conference, Trudeau also saluted the women who came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown, who stepped down overnight while denying any wrongdoing.
Trudeau said all allegations are taken "extremely seriously."
"My thoughts turn immediately to the women who came forward, knowing how difficult it is, it can be, to salute them for their courage and their leadership," he said. "I certainly hope their example will resonate and that the support of their friends, their families and the community at large remains with them."
Trudeau is making his way back to Canada Thursday.
Past criticism of Hehr
Hehr faced criticism in December from a Calgary woman engaged in a class-action lawsuit against the federal government who said he was "very condescending" when she contacted his office regarding an issue related to benefits while on maternity leave.
Jennifer McCrea had been fighting on behalf of a group of mothers who say they were denied benefits while on maternity leave and contacted Hehr's office in October 2016 after being encouraged to speak to local Liberal MPs about her case.
She asked him pointedly why Ottawa continues to fight sick women — a "loaded question" to which he allegedly replied, "Well, Ms. McCrea, that is the old question, like asking … 'When did you stop beating your wife?'"
"I didn't respond [with] anything because my jaw was on the floor," McCrea recalled.
Hehr admitted to sometimes being "brash" and "inappropriate" after the complaint.
Members of a thalidomide survivor group have also complained about feeling belittled after a meeting with Hehr, and accused him of making offensive statements about their life expectancies.
One survivor said Hehr said they didn't have it as bad as they did when they were kids, then went on to say: "Well you don't have it so bad. Everyone in Canada has a sob story.'"
The minister denied at least one of their claims and said he has apologized if some of his comments were misinterpreted.
Hehr was shuffled into the sport and disabilities portfolios last summer from veterans affairs.
Trudeau has had to deal with other cases of allegations of sexual harassment and abuse in the Liberal Party, including:
In December 2017, the deputy director of operations in the PMO, Claude-Éric Gagné, went on leave while a third party investigated allegations of inappropriate behaviour.
In August 2017 (2nd story on link), Calgary MP Darshan Kang resigned from the Liberal caucus amid allegations of sexual harassment.
In May 2016, Nunavut MP and former federal cabinet minister Hunter Tootoo resigned from cabinet and the Liberal caucus amid allegations he had a "consensual but inappropriate" relationship with a female staffer.
And before the Liberals took office, Trudeau kicked two of his MPs — Massimo Pacetti and Scott Andrews — out of the caucus over allegations of harassment made by two New Democratic MPs.
Hehr's exit was just a matter of time and Trudeau should have expedited that exit before Hehr had time to do more damage. Kent Hehr's only qualification to be a minister seems to be that he is in a wheelchair. Hehr was being criticized daily for being rude and dismissive to women, and, oddly enough, to disabled people.
In Trudeau's diverse cabinet, appearance trumps ability and seems to be the only qualification. Excellent people were overlooked for cabinet posts because they had the misfortune of being white males. The quality of the Federal Cabinet has suffered for it.